Avoid Three Common Interview Tricks, Traps, and Pitfalls

Avoid Three Common Interview Tricks, Traps, and Pitfalls

When hiring, employers want “solutions.” Present yourself as a solution by avoiding the tricks, traps, and pitfalls that trip many people up during interviews.  For each question the employer asks, answer so you position yourself as the most desirable candidate.

QUESTION: Why do you want this position?

“To use my IT skills to their best advantage,” doesn’t give an employer much to go on. They want to find out how well you’ve researched the company and the position. They may also want to dicover whether you understand the company or industry as a whole. IT personnel who understand the business or industry have a much greater chance of beating out another candidate with similar technical skills.

To prepare for this question, visit the company’s website before the interview. Read the corporate newsletter, look over an annual report to understand the company’s business model, and check out articles about the company in the trade press. This will allow you to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework, but beyond that, that you understand the company’s challenges or accomplishments. If you were involved in a successful project that solved problems or dealt with issues similar to the ones facing this company, bring that up to score extra interview points.

QUESTION: What do you consider your area of weakness?

This is an elimination question that helps employers weed out candidates. A typical strategy is to offer a strength as a weakness (“I’m enthusiastic, so I can overwork myself and others, but I’m aware of that tendency and have learned to modify it.”) This may be preferable than admitting a flaw, but an even better tactic is to mention what you least and most like to do. The trick here is to offer a most like to do that matches the most important job qualification, and a least like to do that is outside of the job description.

For instance: “I really enjoy writing elegant and efficient code, and that’s what I like to spend my time doing as opposed to writing documentation. Of course, I know the importance of documentation, so I’ve made it a point to keep my documentation current.  But I love writing code.”  This example, based on a development position, keys the “what I like best” to the most important aspect of the job.

QUESTION: Tell me about a project that failed, or you were disappointed in.

As with weaknesses and faults, it’s crucial that you portray yourself in a positive light. Choose a project that was praised because of your skills or participation and that also relates to the type of projects you would be expected to do in this position. Mention that although the project was considered to be highly successful by your boss (and hers), that on reflection, you thought of ways it could have been even more successful. This demonstrates a desire to continuously improve.